It’s been more than 14 months since Adam Oates took over the reins of the Washington Capitals as head coach. With this week’s rookie camp, he has now seen some of his team’s young charges at three different camps: summer development camps in 2012 and 2013 and the current rookie camp. He has seen them engage in a handful of scrimmages against one another at those summer camps, but Oates will finally get his first look at them playing in anger against another NHL organization this afternoon.
The Caps and Flyers renew their tradition of a September rookie game on Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington. The game wasn’t played last year; it was a casualty of the NHL lockout that shrank the 2012-13 season from 82 to 48 games.
Caps rookie Tom Wilson was able to achieve an NHL rarity because of the lockout circumstance. He played in his first NHL Stanley Cup playoff game without ever having skated in an NHL preseason (or regular season) game. Wilson and 2013 first-rounder Andre Burakowsky and the rest of the Caps in camp this week will take on the Flyers’ prospects, who are led by 2012 first-rounder Scott Laughton and 2013 first-round defenseman Samuel Morin.
Washington and Philadelphia started their tradition of playing an annual rookie game in Sept. 2007 at Philly’s Voorhees, N.J. practice facility. Nicklas Backstrom and Mathieu Perreault were among the noteworthy Caps to play in that inaugural contest while Steve Downie and Claude Giroux were among the notables to suit up for Philadelphia. The Flyers prevailed by a 5-3 count that afternoon.
The first of the rookie games between the Caps and Flyers to be played at Kettler was in 2008, with the Caps trouncing the Flyers by a 7-0 count. Perreault, Michal Neuvirth, Karl Alzner, Jay Beagle and John Carlson were among the notable Washington rookies to appear in that game.
Philly exacted some payback in 2009 when it toppled the Caps by a 7-3 score on the strength of an impressive four-goal outburst from James van Riemsdyk. Washington took the 2010 game at Kettler by a 4-3 margin, defeating future Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky. The last rookie game played between the two clubs was the 2011 affair, the only one played in an NHL rink. With about 10,000 fans in attendance, Philadelphia prevailed 3-2 in that contest at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly.
The two teams have alternated victories in the series with each team winning each game on its own ice sheet. The Flyers are seeking to become the first team to win on the road in the rookie game series and to become the first team to take consecutive contests.
For the Caps prospects, Monday’s game marks the culmination of camp after five days of practice. Most participants will remain to take part in Washington’s 2013-14 training camp, which begins on Thursday.
We’ll be streaming today’s game live on Monumental Network beginning at 2:50 p.m. John Walton will handle the play-by-play and I’ll be alongside to say some words into the microphone as well. If you can’t make it out to Kettler, I’ll hope you’ll tune into the stream.